With two more persons succumbing to their burn injuries today, the toll in Friday's deadly fire-blast, apparently caused by leakage from a GAIL gas pipeline here, rose to 19 even as the condition of at least three others remains critical, police said.
"Two men who were undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Kakinada succumbed to their burns in the early hours. With this, the toll has risen to 19," East Godavari District Superintendent of Police G Vijay Kumar told PTI.
The condition of at least three among the 15 others who are undergoing treatment in different hospitals remains critical as they have suffered around 80 per cent burns, the SP said.
The massive blaze started early Friday morning in Nagaram village in the coastal district, about 560 kms from Hyderabad, apparently after leaked gas from the pipeline got ignited when a tea vendor lit his stove. Following a blast, the gigantic flames scorched houses, coconut palms and everything else in a radius of half a kilometre.
Police, who yesterday registered a case of negligence against the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), after examining eyewitnesses, recording statements of victims' relatives and based on preliminary investigation, said they have begun the probe by collecting documents relating to the pipes laid.
Some residents of Nagaram had alleged GAIL had failed to act on their complaints of gas leaks from its pipeline in the past few days.
Police were also ascertaining whether the PSU had taken necessary safety measures for the gas pipeline passing through a populated area.
"The investigation process in on...the investigating officials are collecting material and documents and finding out what precautions the company had taken (with regard to pipeline)...the GAIL officials will also be questioned," the senior police official explained.